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  #1  
Old 12-14-2018, 06:55 PM
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Published game modules you really hated and why?

For me just with AD&D.

As a DM:

S1 Tomb of Horrors watching impassively as the whole party, took a shortcut through a certain sphere of annihilation, and having to explain to a group of annoyed players that they were all dead. Written by the one and only Gary "I don't like killer dungeons" Gygax.

As a DM or a player:

A1 - A4 The Slavers series, with the ubiquitous. "You get captured, all your magic items are taken, you escape." rinse and repeat through the following three modules in the series.

When the blurb within the module says once the party is captured and chained up on the deck of the slavers' ship have the villain go through their magical items, any that they cannot use to be gleefully thrown over the side of the ship in to the depths of the water, while watching the players faces.
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Old 12-16-2018, 10:53 AM
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I never found a module I really hated, I suppose. As a DM, i just changed the parts that I didn't like, and kept running.

As a player... looking back, I admit that I like the more organic approach to adventure design that evolved later. The "ecology of" ideas that helped to keep dungeons from being some kind of random collection of rooms and monsters, and then, the advent of 3rd edition, where things began to be even less random, and make more sense.

I always remember the old "Against the Giants" series, and the Hill Giant Steading, where one of the torches in the hallway was actually an illusion, and it was really a Magic Sword.

I always thought "Who the heck keeps a valuable magic sword disguised as a torch, in some random hallway?" If you can cast the spells to make a sword look like that, why not just keep the sword somewhere handy, and disguised as a butter knife or something.

Ugh. I thank Gygax for his game, but the randomness of monsters, death traps, and "Oh, that one single sapling in the forest is actually a potion of extreme healing" needed to be tamed.
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Old 12-16-2018, 08:07 PM
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Yeah, Against the Giants was one of my favourite campaigns, when followed through into the Drow in the under dark series and ending with the Queen of the Demon web. But yeah, who wouldn't hide a giant slayer sword disguised as a torch, in a random corridor. Maybe I should cut the A1-4 series a little slack, as one or more of them originally started out as a tournament modules for GenCon I think, rather than a proper flowing adventure series.

Indeed thanks to GG and friends the game exists, but yes the create random room, stick random monster into it without considering why they would be there, or sometimes how did they get in there. I liked 3rd and 3.5 but eventually it suffered from broken rules and overpowered splat books.
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Old 12-17-2018, 07:53 AM
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Who can forget the random encounter tables? I remember a specific example when playing in an urban based setting. I think the module was one of the many "monsters invade the standard fantasy castle" trope adventures. The DM rolled for a random encounter and the result came back with a brown bear.

Now I know that encounters are supposed to be random, but come on, a bear, in a castle -- really?

There weren't any modules I hated per se, but then my experience has mostly been from the 2nd Edition era onwards and I found a lot of the adventures and settings published in that time to be incredibly creative and well worth revisiting today by converting to 5e rules. As an aside, the line in the OP about slavers throwing magic items overboard, that is totally something I would likely do in one of my games. There's nothing better than giving the PC's personal stakes in an adventure and nothing hits harder than the loss of a favoured magic item .
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Old 12-17-2018, 09:20 AM
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I used to run Shadowrun at my LGS and there is a module where if you act too greedy, your hand gets blown off with no check or save to stop it.

When I first read it, I liked the idea of gritty consequences for your actions, but it practice, it made every player super salty. Not a single player appreciated that mechanic and these were convention missions

That same sequence of missions also has a point where you're forced to lose and be captured by police to advance the plot. After the first group did everything right but still lost anyway they rioted. I rewrote that sequence to allow victory for well thought out plans.That mission instantly became more popular. Players like to win especially when they work hard/smart
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Old 12-19-2018, 08:25 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ballingray View Post
Who can forget the random encounter tables? I remember a specific example when playing in an urban based setting. I think the module was one of the many "monsters invade the standard fantasy castle" trope adventures. The DM rolled for a random encounter and the result came back with a brown bear.

Now I know that encounters are supposed to be random, but come on, a bear, in a castle -- really?

There weren't any modules I hated per se, but then my experience has mostly been from the 2nd Edition era onwards and I found a lot of the adventures and settings published in that time to be incredibly creative and well worth revisiting today by converting to 5e rules. As an aside, the line in the OP about slavers throwing magic items overboard, that is totally something I would likely do in one of my games. There's nothing better than giving the PC's personal stakes in an adventure and nothing hits harder than the loss of a favoured magic item .
The random tables, could produce some weird outcomes, your trusty group of four or five 5th level adventurers trekking on route to their adventure site in the mountains you encounter some orcs. Off you head to the Monster Manual, do you meet five or six orcs, noooo, 30 to 300 orcs is what the manual tells you. Now I know it's unlikely any reasonable DM would set 300 orcs on a party, unless there was a way to defeat/bypass them entirely City encounters particularly at night would be horrific, all manner of undead roam the city streets, vampires, Liches, Ghosts, and even a demon or two could be encountered as you staggered home from the local tavern.
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Old 12-19-2018, 08:46 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Imveros View Post
I used to run Shadowrun at my LGS and there is a module where if you act too greedy, your hand gets blown off with no check or save to stop it.

When I first read it, I liked the idea of gritty consequences for your actions, but it practice, it made every player super salty. Not a single player appreciated that mechanic and these were convention missions

That same sequence of missions also has a point where you're forced to lose and be captured by police to advance the plot. After the first group did everything right but still lost anyway they rioted. I rewrote that sequence to allow victory for well thought out plans.That mission instantly became more popular. Players like to win especially when they work hard/smart
Similarly, my outlook was if I can capture them I would, if they found a way around the ambush, good on them. Here's how the capture on the boat is supposed to go, while the party is sleeping in their cabins. A longboat from the slaver ship, runs alongside, and slavers clamber up the side of the ship, and throw glass globes containing a knockout gas, the players are asleep so technically not allowed a saving throw. The round after several slavers enter each cabin and imprison the party.

I ran that particular adventure once, and one of the characters was playing an AD&D Oriental character a Wujen ninja (Magic User/Ninja) One of the ninja abilities was to hold their breath for 1 round/level and this was when a combat round was 60 seconds, not as it is now 6 seconds. So the player could hold his breath for 5 minutes, another of their abilities was meditation, which allows the player to rest for 4 hours instead of 8, and is aware of his surroundings.

So when the glass globe gets thrown in, she is aware of it and holds her breath, a round later two slavers enter, she engages them in hand to hand combat, using her martial arts training, with 3 attacks per round doing 1d10 damage per attack. the fight is very short as the slavers were all 1st level. All the other party members are all drugged and taken on deck, the ninja sneaks on to the deck and when the slavers are a safe distance from the party lets rip with one of her third level spells steam breath. This is a breath weapon attack of a cone of scalding steam doing 5d6 damage, a further 6 of the slavers are boiled alive, the remaining ones jump off the ship in a panic morale completely broken.
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Old 12-19-2018, 12:09 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DJP1961 View Post
The random tables, could produce some weird outcomes, your trusty group of four or five 5th level adventurers trekking on route to their adventure site in the mountains you encounter some orcs. Off you head to the Monster Manual, do you meet five or six orcs, noooo, 30 to 300 orcs is what the manual tells you. Now I know it's unlikely any reasonable DM would set 300 orcs on a party, unless there was a way to defeat/bypass them entirely City encounters particularly at night would be horrific, all manner of undead roam the city streets, vampires, Liches, Ghosts, and even a demon or two could be encountered as you staggered home from the local tavern.
If its a high level encounter table you could even run into the tarrasque on the way back
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Old 07-17-2019, 08:40 AM
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As far as a module I hated as a player, it would have to be The Isle of Dread. For some reason, I always seemed to get killed and killed early in this one.
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Old 07-18-2019, 08:00 PM
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Originally Posted by Zellus View Post
As far as a module I hated as a player, it would have to be The Isle of Dread. For some reason, I always seemed to get killed and killed early in this one.
I ran across this module, and DM'd it. After reading it, I realized it would be nasty so I had all five of my players make two characters each. We eventually completed it(well mostly), but only 1 of the original 10 characters survived. And only then by falling into a raging river that led back to the ocean. Surprisingly the Gnome made all his saves It is indeed a brutal module, but I didn't hate it, and I didn't think my friends did either. There were some spectacular crit deaths that were quite memorable, from being swallowed whole by a T-rex to a 3 twenties rolled in a rowperfect critical sneak attack.

As for a Module that I hate? I don't think I have one. However, I do have a gaming system that I Hate: Alternity. The rules in that game put 70-80% of the roll's into the DM's corner, and I remember plenty of times where everyone was waiting on me to finish up so they can get on with the game. Add in the fact that the mechanics were In my opinion at the timebackwords as a '1' was the best result you could get, and any higher result was worse. For a gaming system, it was mostly annoying, though I loved the epic story behind the game.
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Old 07-23-2019, 07:43 PM
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One must remember that all the early modules were pretty much "death waits around every corner" type things... it wasn't until the early '80s that folks began to write things that weren't just a series of death traps, random death rolls, and hidden magic items disguised as rocks and tree limbs.
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Old 06-18-2020, 11:34 AM
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TSR tried a few sandbox-setting modules that really fell flat. L1 Secret of Bone Hill and T1 Village of Hommlet are examples of these. Most DMs could come up with better settings than these and the mini-dungeons included with them were lackluster at best. Note: Gygax did hit the sandbox-setting module concept out of the park with D3 Vault of the Drow, which IMO is the best 1E module.

I cannot agree more with the OP about the A1-4 Slave Lord series. Simply dreadful.

I liked the idea of S3 Expedition to the Barrier Peaks, but honestly as a young DM I found the adventure unplayable. There was simply too much crammed into the module, the map was too big and intricate, and the concept too complicated. For a bunch of 13-year olds it was unworkable, interesting as it was to read through.

But the modules that I absolutely despised were the Dragonlance modules (my group played through 1 and part of 2 before giving up). The setting was constricted with dumb changes ("Kender" instead of halflings and "gully dwarves"), but the real sin of the modules was that they were incredibly railroaded so that the author's plot was maintained. This made the Slave Lord series look like a sandbox. At one point in the second module, one of us just said to the DM: "Look, why don't you just give us a script for us to read aloud if we can't do what we want?" That's when it all fell apart. Worst part was that the author's plot that we were acting in wasn't even all that good or original.
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Old 06-19-2020, 02:37 PM
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I've never encountered a module that I hated, though I suspect some sessions that I hated were the result of a GM actually sticking closely to a module (without telling us he's using a module). However, for obvious reasons I wouldn't know the names of these modules - not to mention that my suspicions might be baseless to begin with!

I started to suspect that in the first place because people have ran modules for us on other forums and sometimes it has worked. However, when it didn't quite work, it often felt constrained and script-like, with the GM not being sure how to proceed when we deviate from it. In short, it often was much like the aforementioned failed sessions.

I vividly remember how someone on another forum ran for us a DCC module for us which featured plenty of frogs, crabs and similar animals grown to absurd sizes. At the end, he was more disappointed than us, because according to him, the module was a huge railroad and the authors were making assumptions about how the PCs would approach the encounters - by attacking with their 0-level PCs and losing several each encounter.
We have failed to follow the script, however, by employing more sensible approaches given that we were a mob of usually calm people. So we avoided fair fights like the plague*, and ended up with at least two 0-level characters each, on average. I think I'd had no losses, or maybe I'd only lost one.
At the end we kept one PC per player and moved on. The subsequent game was much better, though I didn't hate the module...it was simply unremarkable (possibly due to the Referee actually having the experience to acknowledge when the solutions we devised would have to work even if they weren't expected in the module).

*Having played CoC, Traveller and ORE really helped there, because that's my default mode of play!

And unlike the popular opinion in the thread, I like random tables.
However, I prefer having well-constructed and structured random tables, so a possibly nonsensical result just indicates that there's something going on!
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